Many of us are faced with early morning starts, long commutes, longer workdays, higher demands, increased stress and family obligations that make it difficult to follow a healthy eating plan. Many of us may fall into the trap of not eating at all for long stretches of the day, breaking for high sugar, high fat snacks and then ending off with a huge supper. Clearly, this isn’t the way to increase energy or to build resilience.
In fact, eating habits like this will make the effects of a hectic lifestyle worse by decreasing energy, decreasing mental engagement, increasing irritability, increasing weight gain and may impair the functioning of your immune system.
There’s nothing worse than feeling drained. Most people make things even worse by reaching for a strong coffee, energy bar or a drink, but this is only a short-term fix as the effects soon wear off. You want energy that lasts all day, not just for an hour.
Don’t leave your health and your energy to chance. Here are 8 energy increasing tips:
1. Aim to eat light and eat often. Eat 4-6 small meals per day. Spacing out your meals/snacks will help regulate your blood glucose (sugar) and help sustain your energy levels throughout the day.
2. Manage your portions. Overeating can do more harm to your energy levels than you may realize. Your body has to work hard to store excess food, so your energy levels may crash immediately following a large meal. Keep snacks to 500-750 kilojoules (150 calories) and meals to 1200-2000 kilojoules (360 calories).
3. Fast food doesn’t equal fast energy. Grabbing high fat, high sugar, refined, high sodium foods made with low quality ingredients can increase your waistline, but not your energy levels. Healthy meals can also be fast – take a look at the quick and easy, yet healthy, meal ideas on my blog.
4. For sustained energy, eat a balance of food groups and nutrients. Your body digests protein, fats and carbohydrates differently. Carbohydrates start being digested in your mouth, protein starts in your stomach and fat doesn’t start until it reaches your intestines. Follow the recommended plate model in my blog for most meals i.e. 2 fistfuls of vegetables or salad with 1 fistful lower GI, higher fibre starch; 1 fistful (palm of hand) lean protein and 1 portion of healthy fat.
5. Rethink your drink. Avoid drinking your kilojoules. Drinking kilojoules like the kind found in sugared cold drinks, fruit juices, flavoured coffees, iced teas, even flavoured waters and alcohol is the last thing you need when you’re trying to lose weight and increase energy. Stick with water, herbal teas or un-sugared beverages (on occasion).
6. Get colourful! Eat enough fresh uproduce by having 5 to 10 servings of fruits and/or vegetables each day. Have fresh fruit at breakfast and include it as snacks. Always have salad or vegetables with lunch and dinner. Your energy levels and health will increase.
7. Get moving! Movement positively impacts every system of your body. Lack of movement causes the body to “switch off” non-essential functions to conserve energy and impairs blood circulation. Movement is one of the most powerful stimulators of energy to the body. Try to not sit still for longer than 30 minutes. Even just a few basic stretches or going for a short walk will increase your energy.
8. Take a deep breath. If you want an all-over health boost with very little effort, all you have to do is breathe . . . deeply! Sometimes the smallest things come with the biggest benefits. Breathing deeply is one of them. Breathe in through your nostrils and fill your belly with air, hold your breath for a few seconds and then gently exhale. Repeat as often as possible.